School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Jose Arturo Puga


SILFE, Second Language Acquisition, English Learners, Acculturation, Culture Shock, Acculturative Stress, SLFE, Immigrants, Academic Acculturation, Context of Reception, Social Acculturation


Anthropology | Education


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to explore the acculturation experiences of underschooled Latin American English Learners (ELs) in a secondary school in the southern part of the United States. The underschooled ELs are defined as English learners ranging in ages from 13-17 years old who have come from another country in Latin America within a three-year time span having three years or less of educational schooling in their native country. The sampling size for this study consisted of eight EL students in grades seventh through tenth grade. The subsequent central question guided the study: What are the experiences of underschooled Latin American ELs as they acculturate in a secondary school in the southern part of the United States? The theory guiding this study is Berry’s acculturation theory; hence, the acculturation theory suggests that people from different backgrounds and cultures that associate in society begin to change culturally and psychologically which results in acculturation. Data collection consisted of interviewing the underschooled ELs, utilizing a focus group, and observing the EL students in their classroom settings. Based on Moustakas’ phenomenological data analysis, the qualitative data analyzation process consisted of bracketing, horizonalization, gathering significant statements, forming clusters of meanings, developing textural and structural descriptions, and following up with a composite description of the essence of the phenomenon. Four main themes emerged from the data analysis process: the underschooled English learners are academically unprepared in their native country, they are unprepared for the academic and social challenges, and they hold high expectations for the future.